Go to church and listen to some interesting concerts




Area churches play a significant role in the region's musical life, serving as concert venues for a wide spectrum of performers and repertoire each season. Here are notable examples on this weekend's calendar:

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation celebrates its centennial with a concert by the church's choir singing works in Greek and English. The program includes the haunting Song for Athene by contemporary British composer John Tavener, which was memorably performed at Princess Diana's funeral. There will also be some chamber music; the Cathedral Quartet and clarinetist David Drosinos will play a work by early 19th- century Finnish composer Bernard Henrik Crusell.

The concert is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Cathedral, 24 W. Preston St. A reception follows. Admission is free, but reservations are requested. Call 410-561-1492 or 410-321-8898.

Selections from the rich musical heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church will be included in a program by Lyra, a vocal sextet from the famed St. Petersburg Conservatory. This season-opener for the Sundays at Central Concert Series also includes a sampling of Russian folk songs.

The concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road, Towson. Admission is free; donations welcomed. For more information, call 410-823-6145.

Catonsville Presbyterian Church opens its seventh season with a wide-ranging program by the Monarch Brass. The group boasts some of the leading brass players in the region, including Phillip Munds, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's principal horn; Chris Dudley, the BSO's associate principal trombone; trumpeters Phil Snedecor (he has played with the BSO and the National Symphony) and Chris Gekker (a University of Maryland faculty member); and tuba-player Dave Brown of the U.S. Army Band.

The concert is at 3 p.m. Sunday at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, 1400 Frederick Road. Admission is free; donations welcomed. For more information, call 410-747-6180.

Adolf Cluss, the German-American architect who designed buildings in Washington (including the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building) and Baltimore (the Concordia Opera House), is being commemorated by the house of worship where he was married in 1859. The Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, founded by German immigrants 250 years ago, will present the Wurttemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn from Germany in a concert commemorating Cluss' legacy.

The program, conducted by Ruben Gazarian, includes a string symphony by Mendelssohn, the A major Violin Concerto by Mozart (with soloist Arabella Steinbacher) and a string orchestra arrangement of the F major Quintet by Bruckner. The concert is at 5 p.m. Sunday at Zion Church, 400 E. Lexington St. Admission is free. For more information, call 410-727-3939.

Potent BSO debut

If you missed conductor Carlos Kalmar's BSO debut last weekend, make a note now: he's coming back in April. Be there.

Kalmar, born in Uruguay of Austrian parents and long based in Vienna, is currently music director of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra. Judging by his BSO gig, leading the season's first Symphony With a Twist program, he must be enlivening the Pacific Northwest considerably.

His remarks to the audience before each item on the bill Friday night at the Music Center at Strathmore needed trims, but his music-making was spot-on. With keenly judged tempos and remarkably sensitive phrase-molding, Kalmar coaxed some of the most beautiful Mozart playing I've heard from the BSO - a lithe, colorful, joyous account of the Linz Symphony.

Even allowing for frayed edges in articulation, the orchestra also revealed a strong rapport with the conductor in a passionate sweep through the Suite from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.

The Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde yielded rewards, too, from conductor and players. But the performance was saddled with visual distraction - a ballet for three dancers (and four coffee tables), aimlessly choreographed by Paul Emerson and executed by members of his D.C.-based CityDance Ensemble.


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